When in Door County, WI, act like a Bier Zot

A what?

from B.C., Johnny Hart

No, not that Zot.

Translated from the Flemish: Bier = Beer   Zot = Idiot or Crazy :  To be a Beer Idiot or someone Crazy for Beer who goes to the Bier Zot Beer Cafe in Sister Bay, Door County, Wisconsin.

Bier Zot front door ( that space in the right side of picture is Wild Tomato 2 Restaurant) , Menu pic

We discovered this fun place last Friday but it has been there since 2014. We’re a bit slow sometimes. The Bier Zot is a Belgian style Beer Cafe that serves 11 drafts, one cask and 100 bottles of craft and Belgian beers. Couple this with a “European inspired” menu and you’ve got a tasty combination. The restaurant has casual pub style decor with outdoor seating as well.

Now the only way we found this place was through another restaurant, Wild Tomato, owned by the same people, Britt & Sara Unkefer. That restaurant in Fish Creek (further down on the peninsula) serves really great wood fired pizza. We did a short post on it in 2010. Last year the owners decided to open Wild Tomato 2 alongside their Bier Zot so while stopping for pizza at the new location we discovered it (the entrances share a hallway.) On this latest trip our destination was definitely Bier Zot, no pizza distraction.

Once seated the Beer Board offered an interesting selection. The waitress helped us navigate through it. There were full descriptions of the beers in the menu as well.

Curt went with the Ommegang Rosetta, a sour beer that I find hard to take by itself but it goes very well with food. I wanted something in the pale ale range and she suggested Boulevard Tropical Pale (half pour please). On both of these we were allowed a sample before committing to a glass. Our friend Carol was with us and she went with the Ommegang as well.

Ommegang Rosetta and Boulevard Tropical Pale

Next up, food. Now Bier Zot describes itself as a European inspired cafe and for the most part that is true. I saw a lot of German influence ( Thursday night was actually German Night) but there was French influence and some just creative cuisine as well. Find their menu here.

I went with the Chicken Schnitzel Sandwich. Schnitzel is just a pounded, seasoned and breaded meat that is fried. I am sure you are familiar with Wiener Schnitzel which is a breaded veal cutlet. My Chicken Schnitzel was served on a pretzel bun with greens, a yellow heirloom tomato and Dijon horseradish sauce. I liked it.Carol chose the Bier Zot Bratwurst. This was their house recipe brat on pretzel bun accompanied by sauerkraut and Dijon mustard. We can only assume they make these on the premises because it was extra long and it fit the bun, sort of. It had a taste and found it milder than many Wisconsin brats, more like a veal sausage.  I am ordering that next time. Finally Curt started out with a half-dozen Washington State oysters, which seems to be a new addition to the menu, pending availability. He followed that with the Aubergine Zacusca. This was grilled eggplant with tomato, greens, shallots, basil chevré and ground cumin on Naan. Our server told us this was concocted by a former staff member who is Muslim and had a hard time finding anything Halal in the kitchen.  It was a success and  found a permanent home on the menu.  It was excellent.

You can tell we passed our dishes around so everyone could get a taste. Hmm, maybe I’ll have this one next time.All in all it was a very enjoyable lunch and we will return.

One more thing. It took us a minute to figure out what the wooden tables were constructed from…..can you see it? Bleachers. Sturdy and a good reuse. In case you don’t feel like an idiot, Zot can also be translated from Albanian as “god”.  Beer idiot?  Beer god?  Maybe there’s not much difference between the two.

Eggrolls, Tamales and a Pint of Lard

Our “summer” farmer’s markets ended in October and since then we’ve been waiting, waiting, waiting for New Leaf’s Winter Farmer’s Market to open. It is held indoors and every other week or so until February. This Saturday morning was the first one and I just figured Curt would head out, buy wonderful things and I would wait here in my robe and jammies. Then he would return with coffee and scones for my breakfast and other goodies for wonderful future meals.

Waiting patiently for breakfast delivery

Waiting patiently for breakfast delivery

Yeah, right!

Curt had already been up for 2 hours by the time I rolled out at 8am. I was about to slip into my sweats and slippers when he bounced into the bedroom suggesting that I get dressed and come with him to the market. He is just too perky in the morning. After some whining and groaning, all of which he ignored, he convinces me to get ready and join him. Fortunately it was dry out and fairly mild for Dec 1, otherwise this slug would be back under the covers.

It proved to be an enjoyable and profitable morning. I shouldn’t admit this, it will just encourage him the next time. The first thing I was looking for was coffee but the first vendor I stopped at (The Attic) also had Ghirardelli hot chocolate.  Sipping my cocoa I caught up to Curt who was buying two smoked trout fillets from Fred at Trust Local Foods.

trout

Next up, from Seifarm, a dozen of beautiful brown cage free eggs and a pint of rendered lard (for making pie crust and our own tamales), and from Twin Elm Gardens, spicy microgreens and butter chard.

eggs

Beautiful brown eggs

Spicy microgreens

Spicy microgreens

By now I need something to go with my hot chocolate and the gal at a Breadsmith asks me if I want to sample a cinnamon, walnut, raisin scone. Duh! That sample led to my breakfast purchase. Curt meanwhile is buying a mixed dozen of chicken and pork tamales. These will make a couple of nice meals. Norsk Farm from Lena, Wisconsin has a wide variety of meat so an uncured smoked boneless ham steak joins our bag next to the lamb rib chops from Sattler Farm. All of the meat producers here are proud to tell us their animals are low in fat, grass-fed, humanely treated and naturally processed (no nitrites); we like that too.

416 Cuisine is an artisan Italian food business who has homemade pasta but we notice a sign on their table, gnocchi $7.  We ask about it, it looks really good and another purchase is made.

Gnocchi

Gnocchi

Time to get out of here before we break the bank. Seriously, we have purchased really good food for quite a few meals so it all evens out in the end. Last stop before the door, four Hmong eggrolls from Pilgrim Lutheran church. Today’s lunch!

If you are lucky enough to have a winter market near you, check it out. You would be amazed at the products you can get to brighten up the dark months.

Local Chops

Pork rib chops and friends

We believe in locally owned businesses. So a couple of weeks ago when we were shopping at a kitchen store in town we noticed in their parking lot a small camper and a freezer case. The banner over the tent said Grassy Valley Meat. Ever curious Curt headed right over, hesitant Jeanne brought up the rear. What we found was two young, personable fellows selling locally grown, locally processed beef and pork. They don’t raise the animals or process their meat.  They, similar to what Fred Depies does at Trust Local Foods, are distributors of locally grown farm products from a variety of farmers in Northeastern Wisconsin, except they only handle meat.

After hearing their spiel we decided to try some of their product and bought some breakfast sausages which turned out to be very good – nicely seasoned and very little shrinkage.

Since they had given us a $5 off coupon on our next $25 purchase, a couple of weeks later we decided to go back, get some more sausages and try some of the other cuts they had on offer.  We picked up a beef arm roast and pork rib chops which are the inspiration for today’s post.

Pork Rib Chops

2 thick pork rib chops
several bunches of fresh sage leaves
1/2 Tbs Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Honeycrisp apples, peeled, seeded and sliced into wedges
1 Tbs unsalted butter
Apple glaze (see below)

Pork rib chops with sage

Pat the chops dry and put several sage leaves on each side – pat them down so they’re in full contact with the meat.  Cover and set aside to allow the meat to come to room temperature.  Just before cooking, liberally salt and pepper the chops.

Chops in the pan

Heat a heavy frying pan over medium-high heat for several minutes.  Add 1/2 Tbs. of oil and place the chops, with their sage leaves, into the pan and pan roast for about 4 minutes per side.  Once the first side is nicely browned, turn and put the pan into a hot (400˚ F) oven for 10 minutes (less time for thin or medium cut chops).

Chops, browned on one side and turned

In a separate pan, heat 1 Tbs. of unsalted butter and saute the apple slices over medium-high heat until the apples are nicely browned, about 2 minutes, turn and continue sauteing until the second side is also colored.

Plate the chops with the fried sage leaves in place.  Top with apple slices and drizzle with apple glaze (see below).  Serve with roast potatoes and sweet/sour cabbage – garnish with sage sprig.

Apple Glaze

This can be bought in bottles from better food purveyors.  To make at home,  heat 1/2 C. fresh apple cider in a small sauce pan until it boils.  Turn heat down and continue simmering until the cider is reduced to a syrupy consistency.  Yields about 2 Tbs.

Apple glazed pork rib chops with roast potatoes and sweet/sour cabbage.  Pretty brown but pretty tasty.

Kangaroostaurant!

We had a delightful lunch yesterday at a food truck. There’s not many of them (food trucks) in our neck of the woods. We read about the food truck boom in NY, Chicago and LA but not so much in NE Wisconsin. Yes, there are a few part-time affairs that show up at special events but not every day operations and most follow a pretty tried and true (and a little tired) menu strategy of tacos, burgers and such.

the Kangaroostaurant truck

A while ago the local paper did a writeup on the Kangaroostaurant, a truck that mostly operates in the Appleton area, some 45 minutes from here. But yesterday, Jeanne heard on Facebook that they were going to be in DePere (a mere 20 minutes from here) in conjunction with a fund-raiser sponsored by Kim Klein Photography to raise money for GLBT partnership for Harmony Cafe, a local cafe affiliated with Goodwill.*

So, off we went.  The menu is short but not short on interest or taste.  The menu board lists a few regular items and about the same number of changing seasonal choices.  Kelly, one of the owners, said they source around 90% of their product from NE Wisconsin so everything is as fresh as can be.  Serving us was Mason, chef, and, according to Kelly, the Kangaroostaurant’s only full time employee.

Mason, chef, and Kelly, owner

Kangaroostaurant’s menu board

I choose the Shaved Pork from Golden Bear Farms, with Stone Fruit Mostarda.  Brilliant combination!  The hit was the mostarda made with fresh Door County sweet cherries and peaches and just the right touch of mustardy heat. It would have been welcome as an accompaniment to any roast or grilled meat, but adding it to a sandwich was the bomb.  I also opted for the Sweet Potato Fries with Hippy Wayne’s curry mustard which were good but a little soggy.  Jeanne went for the Chicken Fajita Grilled Cheese (with peppers, onions, roasted garlic and pepper-jack cheese) a nice mash-up of two old standards packed with veggies.

Shaved Pork with Stone Fruit Mostarda and Sweet Potato Fries

Chicken Fajita Grilled Cheese

All told, a great lunch and some nice people.  Check them out if you see their truck in your neighborhood –  and maybe you’ll find Ron Ron Gorilla at the table next to you (we did).

Ron Ron Gorilla

* $1445.00 was raised for the Partnership.

Trout, trout, Fred

A few posts back I extolled the virtues of the Winter Farmers Market hosted by New Leaf Market in Green Bay. In that post I tried to accurately name each of the vendors I had bought from so I contacted the Market organizers to make sure I was right. Along the line they put me in touch with Fred Depies who is the owner of Trust Local Foods, where I bought the wonderful rainbow trout.

There are any number of reasons you should buy local foods.  It reduces the carbon load of our food supply.  It supports a local community – economically, socially and spiritually.  You might, and often do, meet some pretty nice people, like Fred Depies (more about Fred later).

There’s two problems, though, with trying to buy local foods.

One is finding it.  Most foods in the grocery come from pretty far afield and what little might be locally produced isn’t labeled as such so you pretty much have to do a lot of homework to figure out what’s local.  You can, and should, go to your local farmers market.  It’s a pretty sure bet that what you’ll find there will be local (although not always).  We’ve written about the big summer market in Green Bay before but that market ends in October and doesn’t start up again until June which leaves a lot of gap in between.  You can, of course, drive around the country side looking for roadside signs like “Farm Fresh Eggs for Sale”, or “Honey for Sale”, or in the summer, self-serve stands with the standard produce like tomatoes, corn, peppers and apples for sale.  But what if you were interested in beef, or gluten-free crackers, or trout, or goat’s milk yogurt?  You could drive around a very long time and not encounter a road-side stand selling those.

Fred Depies

That’s where Fred comes in.  In 2004 he stopped at a farm with a sign at the road offering “Farm Fresh Eggs For Sale” and he started to think that it would be nice  if there was a list of local farmer/producers that would steer you to the source of what you’re looking for.  So, eight years ago Fred and his late wife Kathleen started putting together the Farm Fresh Atlas of Eastern Wisconsin.  Note: Farm Fresh Atlas is a Registered Trademark of Research, Education, Action and Policy on Food Group, Inc and is used by Fred and other grassroots coalitions throughout Wisconsin with permission.

OK.  That takes care of the first problem.  The 2011 edition of the Atlas lists 70 farmers and producers in Northeastern Wisconsin with an array of products like; dairy, cheese, eggs, fruit, honey, meat/fish (including chicken, beef, pork, goat, turkey, bison, lamb, duck, goose, rabbit and elk), wine, flowers, jams, salsa, pickles, sunflower seed oil and, of course, vegetables.  Copies are free by contacting Fred at <freddepies@gmail.com> or by downloading from their website,  although the 2011 edition is now out-of-date and the 2012 edition won’t be available until March.

But what about the second problem.  How does the farmer/producer get their products to us, the consumers?  Well, like where we started, they could put up a sign and hope you see it.  They could build a little road-side stand and hope you drive by.  They could rent a stall in their local farmers market.  The problem with the first two options is that they largely depend on serendipity – the chance that you’ll drive by their farm (did you ever notice that many working farms are a little out of the way).  The farmers market strategy means the farmer/producer has to get up in the middle of the night (if they even ever went to sleep) to prep and pack their products to haul to a market 20 miles or maybe 1-1/2 hours away to sit on a blacktop parking lot and hope to sell what they have brought.  And many farmer/producers do that and seem to do well.  But when they’re at the farmers market they’re not on their farm tending to the animals, of weeding the produce, or just having a second cup of coffee with their spouse.  Not to mention the risk of bringing fragile or perishable foods to the market and hoping that it sells before it wilts or starts to thaw in the cooler.

Here’s where Fred comes in again.  In November 2010 Fred started Trust Local Foods (TLF), a distribution company, as its mission statement says, “Delivering Locally and Organically Produced Foods from Trusted Sources to nourish communities through a conscious personal, social and economic commitment embracing these root principles.”   It’s a small operation, just Fred, Erik, Sophie, Aaron and Katie in a small warehouse on the edge of Appleton.  TLF tries to buy their products from producers in Northeastern Wisconsin but will go a bit farther afield (but not outside of Wisconsin) to get products they’d like to handle.  Fred estimates that 80% of their roughly 650 products come from Northeastern Wisconsin.  Their customers are primarily stores, restaurants, delis, institutions, buying clubs, coops and CSAs. Trust Local Foods also does a few farmers markets in winter, trying not to compete directly with the primary producers but to education the buying public so they’re aware of and interested in buying the local products that TLF distributes.

Some of the products Trust Local Foods distributes; Organic Blue Corn Chips, Goat’s Milk, Organic Sunflower Seed Oil – All grown or produced in Wisconsin.

And that’s where I come in.  When walking past the TLF booth at the Winter Market on January 14 (I literally walked past Fred’s booth on the way out with the vegs, chicken, jam and crackers I had bought from other vendors) I noticed something out of the corner of my eye – fresh fish!  Yes, fresh, beautiful Rainbow Trout – boneless, no less.  One of the producers TLF works with is Branch River Farms in Greenleaf who raise rainbow, brook and brown trout and Fred had brought a few packages of the rainbows along to the market.  A bit of a risk because fresh fish is fragile and bringing too much could be expensive if it doesn’t sell (Fred later told me that he had to eat his mistakes the first two markets he went to because the trout didn’t sell as well as he had hoped).

And so the circle is closed, producer to distributor to consumer.  Thanks Fred!  Well done!

OK, home from the market. Now what to do with this stuff?

Lunch?

In our previous post we told you about all the goodies we purchased at the last Winter Market in Green Bay. When at the market it’s easy to get carried away and buy stuff you won’t end up using or buy more than you can use in a reasonable time – like before the next market.  So, now we’ll show you what we did with some of our produce and meat.

The trout is history. Curt cooked and ate that so fast I didn’t even get a picture. He had it for lunch on the Saturday he purchased it and the remainder for lunch on the following Sunday, both times he simply dusted a little flour on the skin side and sauted.  He said it was especially fresh, delicious and he wished he had bought more.  I am not a fish eater and I usually complain about the odor when he cooks it at home.  But this was so fresh there was not a hint of fishy smell in the house.

Today carrots and mixed greens from the market made for a wonderful taco lunch. The carrots were julienned and combined with thin slices of green mango (green mango is unripe and not necessarily green in color – you want the firmest, hardest mango available, regardless of color).  These were dressed with lime juice.  In the fridge he had some chunks of  roast pork he had bought at one of the mercados (Mexican grocery) in town.  He shredded some of this and heated it up in a skillet with a shot of Sriracha and some sweet chili paste and we were ready to go.

Several of the mercados in Green Bay have roast pork on the weekends, freshly roasted, mildly seasoned and cut to order by the pound – I get mine from la Espiga Supermercado on Main Street.  It’s a great convenience food to have on hand in the freezer because it can be used in so many different ways.    – Curt

Mixed salad greens from Twin Elm Gardens

Pop a tortilla on the stove, grill it a bit so its warm and a little toasty. Tortilla to plate, layer on some of the mixed salad greens (sprout and leafy stuff), add pork, top with carrots and mango, drizzle with Ketjap Marinade and lunch is ready! We each had two tacos and a fine lunch it was. More posts to come as we use more of our bounty.

Indonesian Sweet Soy from Netherlands

Improvised taco lunch

What a blessing!

Although Green Bay has a really good farmer’s market from June through November, we don”t have the luxury of a year-round market like those of you in California or even NYC – that is, until this year. The New Leaf Market, a co-operative market, has been hosting a twice monthly farmers market this winter. And what a blessing it has been.
Today, Jeanne and I went sort of early (the market only runs from 8:00 – noon; we got there about 8:30) and we were able to bring home a bounty of food that will not last us until the next market on January 28 (the last two will be on February 18 & 25) but it will do a lot towards getting us there.

Below is a picture of our haul.  It includes

• 1 whole chicken and 4# of chicken wings from Nami Moon Farms in Custer WI (we’re a member of their CSA)
• Chickpea (with coriander, fennel and black pepper) and Triple Seeded (pumpkin, sunflower and poppy) crackers from Elemental Ovens in Manawa, WI
• Butter Chard, Bok Choi, Salad Mix, Shallots, and Baby Carrots from Twin Elms Gardens in Pulaski, WI
• Rainbow Trout (incredibly fresh!) from Branch River Trout Hatchery via Trust Local Foods in Chilton, WI
• Yellow Beets from a vendor I only know as Lenny
• Parmigiano Reggiano and Pecorino Romano from Nala’s Fromagerie in Green Bay
• Blushing Peach Fruit Spread from Mudd Creek in Appleton, WI

Bounty from the January 14, 2012 Winter Market

With such a nice winter market and the World Champion Green Bay Packers just down the road, wouldn’t you really rather live in Green Bay?

Kringle on the Side of the Road

Does everyone know what kringle is? I didn’t until I moved to Wisconsin. One day at work someone said they were making a kringle run? Huh? I was an Illinois gal in Green Bay, Wisconsin  and I was just getting used to the language (bubbler = drinking fountain, soda = pop, Yah-hey = you betcha, Come here once = come here). You get the idea, so I wasn’t sure what a kringle run was, a visit to Santa? No, it was June. So I did what I usually do in these situations, I ask. The answer was that it was a really good coffee cake, that had different fillings and there were certain bakeries that specialized in making them. I felt I needed more information so I didn’t order one that day but fortunately my colleague who went on the “run” bought a few extra for the staff lounge so later in the week during my break I had some kringle.

Kringle, in the United States, turned out to be a hand-rolled Danish pastry dough, rolled and folded into a lot of layers, filled with various fruits, nuts or combinations of the two, shaped into an oval, baked and iced. It was very good and I made sure I ordered one on the next “kringle run.” I’m still not sure where they ran to, but Racine, Wisconsin, with it’s Danish-American cultural background is considered the epicenter of kringle. So maybe that was the destination.

There is your back story. Now about our unlikely appearance of kringle yesterday. Wednesday was a beautiful December day. Sunny, mild wind, upper twenties. We had heard that snowy owls had been spotted at the mouth of the Oconto River about 40 miles north of here on the west side of the bay. So, off we went with binoculars in hand. Most of the trip is on a 4 lane highway (Hwy 41) that goes through some sparsely populated areas. There are gas stations and firework stores and farm implement businesses but you have to exit and go into the towns along the way to find more interesting shops. About 30 miles out we spot a big billboard: Danish Kringle – Old World Pastries – next exit on East Frontage Road.

picture from "Old World Pastries" facebook page

What? We passed the exit but spotted the shop on the frontage road and agreed to stop on our way home. This just seemed so weird to us that out here, sort of in the middle of nowhere, there would be a pastry shop. Bait shop, sure. A bar, yah-hey! But pastry? Of course the word kringle had us hooked. On the way back we watched for the store front we had spotted on our northbound trip. Good thing too since there was no big billboard on the southbound side of the road.

picture from "Old World Pastries" facebook page

It looked like an old saloon that you would ride up to, secure your horse at the rail and saunter in. We sauntered in. Once in the door we went to our left to the small retail space. Next to the counter was a glasscase with one shelf of bite size kringle and two shelves of long kringle. These weren’t in the traditional oval but they looked good and a lot of them were already gone. So with a choice of one raspberry, one blueberry, one apple and one caramel apple we went with the latter. A young man came out from the kitchen, I assume, bagged up our choice and took our $6.00. We remarked that he probably didn’t get much foot traffic out here. He disagreed and said the day before Christmas he sold 97 kringles. I guess someone knows they are there or they all saw the billboard like us. This morning when I came down for breakfast half of the kringle was already gone. Yes, our flavor choice was a success.

Each bag was individually labeled

Half was gone before I got up.

So we may not have found the owls we were seeking but we snagged a pretty good breakfast. Next time you’re driving north on Hwy 41 in Wisconsin, watch for the billboard.

Market Pasta

We have mentioned before that we have a pretty awesome Farmer’s Market up here in the frozen tundra. However its not always frozen and when it gets warm we make the most of it. This year along with vegetables and fruits we decided to visit and support some of the other vendors of meat, eggs, cheese and…..pasta. I have to say Curt has been buying meat for the last couple of years but this year it seems more vendors have popped up and we have purchased chicken, goat, and even have a pork belly on order.

But pasta is a new addition to our market. About 3 weeks ago the vendor’s booth caught our eye. The pasta was in a rainbow of colors and on closer inspection, an equal rainbow of flavors. The types available that day were Lasagna, Trenette and Capellini. The flavors ranged from roasted red pepper to curry-garlic with lots of flavors in between. Even if I didn’t want to eat it (which I definitely did), I wanted to own it because it looked so beautiful.  Dalla Terra is not from Green Bay but comes up to our market from nearby Appleton, about 40 minutes away, and we are glad they make the trip.

They make both a fresh and dried pasta, although they only bring the dried to our farmer’s market.  They make their pasta daily and it sells so quickly that the dried pasta is never older than two weeks, unlike the boxes on your supermarket shelves. On that particular day we ended up choosing a roasted red pepper Lasagna. We asked the gal selling the pasta if these Lasagna sheets would hold up to cooking in boiling water, like pasta, rather than used in a layered Lasagna, like they were intended.  She wasn’t sure but we decided to try.

Dalla Terra Roasted Red Pepper Lasagne (cork for scale)

The sauce starts by frying a mild or hot Italian sausage  in 1 tablespoon of olive oil until cooked through and well browned.  Set aside and reserve the oil in the pan to saute a small onion, sliced, and a large clove of garlic, minced, until they are soft.  Roughly chop the sausage into bite-sized pieces and add back to the pan along with 1/2 C. roasted tomatoes (or substitute dried tomatoes that have been soaked in warm water for 30 minutes) roughly chopped.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

We broke each of the approximately 5″ x 7″ sheets roughly into quarters and cooked them like any other pasta.  Once al dente the pasta is added to the pan with the sauce and tossed to mix.  Serve with a healthy sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.  We ended up with a kind of deconstructed Ravioli.  If we had left the lasagna sheets whole we would have ended up with something more like Fazzoletti (pasta “handkerchiefs”)

Deconstructed raviolis

The next week we bought some of Dalla Terra’s sweet potato Trenette.

Dalla Terra Sweet Potato Trenette

Trenette is like a linguini. Curt cooked the pasta and drained it under cold water to cool it then combined it with a hot (spicey) peanut sauce and shrimp for a cold Japanese soba-style noodle dish. I have to say flavored pasta is fun and really adds a new dimension to the dish. I wonder what we will get next time?

Cheese in a Can

One of the Christmas gifts that arrived at our door in December came from some very dear friends who live in Washington State. It was addressed to us, Jeanne and Curt and to another couple from our Food Group. Since this was sent from former Food Groupies we had a suspicion it might be food and maybe perishable so we opened it immediately. No really, we just wanted to know what was inside and ripped it open as fast as we could.

It was food but it was not perishable, not at all. It was cheese in a can. Cougar Gold from Washington State University.

The can of Cougar Gold

Stamped on the lid was the note “MADE BY NATALIE OCTOBER 27, 2009.” This was when the cheese began its aging process. Along with the can was a little brochure with all the other vital information. This was made by a Washington State University student at WSU, of course, which has its own dairy and creamery. Instructions told us to refrigerate immediately and that unopened cans of Cougar cheese last indefinitely. Some customers have aged the cheese for over 30 years. Ha! that wouldn’t be happening in this house.

First thing we did was take pictures and send them to the other recipients along with an invitation to dinner at our house where we would have a ceremonial cutting of the cheese. And that’s what happened this past Tuesday.

After close inspection of the can by our friends, Curt took can opener in hand.

Front of Can

The opening begins

Don’t you just love ceremony? We expected the cheese to be soft but it was firm and smelled great. It even looked great.

 

Opened can-o'cheese

Pre-division.

Once we had it out of the can it took a few seconds to cut it in half and we all started slicing off hunks and bits, popping them in our mouths.  Its a firm white aged cheddar that reminded us of a favorite cheese called Bella Vitano.

 

We ate from both halves to make it a fair share

The verdict? Thumbs up!!

Thumbs up!

Thumbs up!

So if you get the urge for some good cheese and want to support some budding cheesemakers, order a can of cheese from WSU. Since I am writing this from Wisconsin I feel obligated to mention that you can also get great cheese from the University of Wisconsin Dairy Store, it just doesn’t come in a can.

Thumbs up from me too.